This Will Be Our Year: The Zombies’ 2008 “Odessey & Oracle [Revisited]” live concert

By on April 6, 2018

Odessey & Oracle [Revisited]: The 40th Anniversary Concert — recorded live in concert at Shepherd’s Bush Empire Theatre in London on March 8th, 2008 — pays tribute to the Zombies’ incredible 1968 album, released forty years earlier (at the time).

Watch the concert tonight on Night Flight Plus.

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Odessey & Oracle‘s twelve tracks are lovingly recreated here by all four of the baroque pop band’s surviving members: lead vocalist Colin Blunstone, keyboardist/vocalist Rod Argent, bassist/vocalist Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy.

The concert is dedicated to their much-missed fifth member, guitarist Paul Atkinson, who died in 2004.

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For the past twenty years, on or near the anniversary of the April 1968 UK release date of Odessey & Oracle, a few of the original Zombies have been reuniting to do special concert performances.

Occasionally they’ve released these special reissue versions as well on CD and DVD, beginning in 1998 with the 30th Anniversary edition on London’s Big Beat imprint.

On this particular night in 2008, the concert began with classic rock icon, producer/musician/A&R man Al Kooper telling the audience how Columbia’s head honcho Clive Davis wasn’t going to release the album until he convinced Davis to do so.

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The Zombies had broken up before they could play any of these songs live. Blunstone and Argent have been performing some of them for several decades.

This 2008 concert — shot with multiple Hi-Def cameras, and occasionally split-screens are used to show what’s happening with each member of the band —  was quite literally the first time that the original band had performed Odessey & Oracle live in its entirety since the album was released forty years earlier.

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Read more about the Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle [Revisited]: The 40th Anniversary Concert below.

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The Zombies formed in Hertfordshire, England, on Easter Sunday in 1961.

When Colin Blunstone arrived at an English pub for his audition to be the band’s lead vocalist, Rod Argent saw that he had two black eyes and a broken nose, injuries he’d received during a rugby match. Blunstone joked that he looked like a zombie.

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The Zombies signed with London’s Decca Records, and their 1964 debut album, Begin Here, was a fine collection of strong originals and imaginative R&B covers, but it barely cracked the Top 40.

“Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There” — which are featured during the encore portion of the second set on Odessey & Oracle [Revisited] — landed in the Top Ten in the U.S., but languished in the lower reaches of the UK single charts.

In June of 1967, the Zombies entered Studio II at EMI’s Abbey Road studios, to record what would be their second and final album as a Sixties band. CBS had given the band just £1,000 to produce the album themselves.

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This was the same studio where, just a few months earlier, the Beatles had recorded Sgt. Pepper, and elsewhere in the building at the time, Pink Floyd were recording their debut, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.

By November, the sessions for the album that would become their own baroque pop masterpiece, Odessey & Oracle, were completed.

Today, it ranks right up there with Sgt. Pepper, the Beach BoysPet Sounds, Love‘s Forever Changes, the Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society and other psychedelic-tinged pop masterpieces of the Sixties.

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Odessey & Oracle would feature some of the Zombies’ best songs — among them “Care of Cell 44,” “A Rose for Emily,” “Hung Up on a Dream,” “This Will Be Our Year” and “Time of the Season,” of course.

It was during the recording of the last song, however, that the band ended up fighting amongst themselves, frustrated that that they weren’t making any money at being pop musicians after seven years of playing together.

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There was an additional problem when Argent and White (who produced the album and wrote most of its songs) delivered the final mono master recordings to their label, only to be told that stereo masters would be required as well.

The band had to come up with £1,000 our of their own pockets to pay for new stereo mixes, which were completed by January 1, 1968.

By then, though, Colin Blunstone and Paul Atkinson had simply had enough and left the band, essentially bringing the Zombies original era to a close.

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Odessey & Oracle was released on April 19, 1968 (some sources say April 26) in the UK, and in June in the U.S.

The cover artwork — a painting by Chris White’s friend/roommate Terry Quirk — famously misspelled “Odyssey” as “Odessey,” but the band decided to keep the cover as is.

They told critics the misspelling was intentional, a play on the word “ode,” but the truth was that they hadn’t noticed the mistake until the record sleeves were already being printed.

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Then, in 1969, “Time of the Season” soared to #1 on the U.S. singles charts, and Columbia decided to re-release the album on their Date Records subsidiary.

They wanted the band to tour, but Argent and White were already busy with their new band,prog-rockers Argent, and Blunstone was off trying to make a living selling insurance while pursuing a solo career.

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Another thirty years would pass before they played together again, in 1999 when Blunstone rang up Argent out of the blue because he needed a keyboard player for six scheduled dates, and they discovered they could still make great music together.

Decades later, they’re both still going strong.

Watch Odessey & Oracle [Revisited]: The 40th Anniversary Concert and other live concerts over on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.